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What is Keratoconus?

KeratoconousKeratoconus means cone-shaped cornea. The cornea is involved in focusing images on the retina, which helps us see clearly. Normally, the cornea is round like a basketball. In keratoconus, the cornea becomes thin and cone-shaped like a football, which results in blurred and distorted vision. The curvature of the cornea becomes irregular, resulting in increasing myopia and astigmatism. Keratoconus is usually progressive and the cornea becomes more thin, steep, and irregular over time.

About 1 in 5000 people develop keratoconus. The cause is unknown. It is known to run in families. It affects men and women equally. Keratoconus typically affects both eyes. Most people have a mild or moderate form of the disease, which is treatable with glasses or contact lenses. Some people with keratoconus may develop a more severe form, which often requires surgical treatment. It is typically diagnosed in the late teens or twenties. However, many people are diagnosed in their mid to late thirties. It is common for one eye to proceed faster than the other and the eyes may go for long periods of time without any change and then change dramatically over a period of months. The progression of the disease typically slows down in the thirties.

Symptoms of Keratoconus

  • distortion of vision
  • blurred vision that is not correctable with glasses
  • monocular diplopia (double vision)
  • glare at night
  • sensitivity to light
  • no pain or discomfort


Diagnosis of Keratoconus

Slit-lamp microscopy and corneal maps are used to make the diagnosis. Topographical maps provide useful information regarding the curvature, thickness, astigmatism, and steepness of the cornea necessary to evaluate the cornea and make the diagnosis. Our doctors at Denver Eye Surgeons have all the advanced diagnostic equipment that is necessary to make the diagnosis. We currently utilize the Atlas Humphrey topographer and the Pentacam topographer.

How is Keratoconus Treated?

The treatment depends on the level of keratoconus. There is no cure for the disease. The good news is that treatment is available and the prognosis for vision is very good. For mild to moderate forms of keratoconus, vision might be correctable with glasses or rigid contact lenses. If the keratoconus worsens to a more severe form where even rigid contact lenses are not helpful, then a cornea transplant may become necessary.

Our doctors at Denver Eye Surgeons have the expertise, knowledge, and experience to help guide you through your best options for treatment. We have a fellowship-trained cornea specialist who can help you with the diagnosis and treatment of keratoconus. Our optometrist can fit keratoconic eyes with the latest available contact lens designs.

Keratoconus Resources

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